election anxiety

Feel kind of "off" this season and don't know why?

You might have a mild form of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).

PTSD has risen sharply over the past month subsequent to the presidential election in the USA. More and more reports are appearing. Why? 

1. Whenever we try to process something outside the range of normal human expectation, our brains go on reverb loops trying to make sense of it. This process can be addictive, especially if the source is erratic and unpredictable.

2. Brains are lazy. They avoid conscious decisions when they take too much energy. Decision-making ability deteriorates with complex and repetitive decisions. Over the period of the presidential campaign, we have tried and failed to force reality and evidence to make sense. After many efforts over time, the brain becomes immune to further effort.

3. Neurons that Fire Together, Wire Together. Neurons activated together create stronger connections. Trump creates a strong and enduring brand memory (pairing of emotion and visual image) which continues the PTSD.  

Symptoms

Symptoms may start any time within three months of a traumatic event (November 8, 2016). They're evidenced by any or all of these signs. 

1. Intrusive memories

Recurrent, unwanted memories of the traumatic event

Upsetting dreams about the traumatic event

Emotional distress to something that reminds you of the event

2. Avoidance

Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event

Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event

3. Negative changes in thinking and mood

Negative feelings about yourself or other people

Less likely to experience positive emotions

Feel emotionally kind of numb

Hopeless about our future

4. Changes in emotional reactions

Irritable

Guilt or shame

Trouble concentrating

Trouble sleeping

Steps to Take

1. Acknowledge symptoms and know that you're healthy and "normal" because you do.

2. Speak openly; support groups have formed in most cities. Avoid blame and derision, just focus on your own reactions. You need affirmation that how you feel makes sense.

3. If you can't avoid the news, watch it consciously. Note how Trump creates division and mass addiction by his erratic, unpredictable and inappropriate behavior.

4. When thoughts and memories intrude, thought-stop and replace with action (write, call, support movements that can restore sanity, help someone else) or a substitute another thought."It will be OK in the end, if it's not OK, it's not the end."  

 

I’m a therapist and I’m depressed.

From StoryPeople: “Of course I’m not happy, she said to me, but I’ve got a degree in psychology so at least I can explain why.”

Those of us who know better are supposed to hold immunity. But we don’t. The election cycle is dragging up old and new issues in a lot of us. Many of us are reliving past trauma, whether it’s been ‘treated’ or not. Children of holocaust survivors, adults abused as kids have a high sense of dread and report flashbacks, general anxiety, mild depression, headaches, waking up at 3:00am for no reason. 

Here’s what I’m doing to pull out I hope it helps.

1. Remember that it’s “normal” to react. The good news is that if we are ‘reacting’ we have not bought into the delusions. We’re overexposed to situations that are outside the range of human understanding. 

2. Reduce news consumption. There is nothing we can do to control it.

3. Take some positive action. Make a stand. Get out to vote. Get your friends out to vote.

4. Reframe what we can. “We’re lucky to live in a country that supports freedom of speech.” “It will be OK in the end; if it’s not OK it’s not the end.”

5. Cut ourselves some slack. I don’t feel like working, my energy is low. So I go to the beach, light a candle, practice more meditation, get out into nature, be with positive friends. Give in to self-care; it's only for a little while more.